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Sustainability report 21|22

We are committed to efficient and careful use of resources. The useful life of equipment, targeted and careful use of non-renewable resources, and reusing or recycling devices and products to support a sustainable circular economy are all priorities.

Waste management  

In waste management, our main priorities include resource conservation and waste avoidance. Both topics are also taken into account during the procurement process and discussed with suppliers, including measures such as reusing containers after cleaning instead of disposing of them.

We generate large quantities of waste depending on the project in question – this is particularly the case when dismantling mining facilities that are no longer needed. We are legally obliged to restore the original landscape. RAG Austria AG conducts this decommissioning and restoration work very thoroughly and extremely conscientiously. If any contamination is identified during the process, it is completely removed under expert supervision before being properly disposed of. An expert opinion is subsequently obtained to confirm that the ground is free of contaminants. 

Plant construction and operation is conducted in accordance with the state of the art and on the basis of our long-standing experience. If leaks occur in plant components and pipelines, and liquids such as crude oil or formation water that could potentially contaminate the site escape, then the soil is collected by licenced companies for proper disposal after being assessed by a qualified expert. 

While waste management is built into the HSE management system, additional measures are also incorporated in the integrity management system to prevent leaks and releases of hazardous substances.

The quantity of waste generated in the office buildings and plants is low compared to our mining-related projects. Still, we want to continue to focus on awareness-raising measures among our employees and cleaning staff going forward with regard to cutting resource consumption and promoting appropriate waste separation. Waste may only be collected by authorized waste disposal companies (via the Electronic Data Management platform at www.edm.gv.at). All RAG-audited and approved waste disposal companies are listed under 'GLN waste disposal companies' on the company intranet.

Waste generation  

The total amount of waste has been significantly reduced over the last few years: from over 32,000 tonnes in 2018, to just under 16,500 tonnes in 2021 and around 13,900 tonnes in 2022. In numerical terms, the most significant quantities of non-hazardous waste are attributable to the ‘excavated soil‘ category. In the reporting period this chiefly related to the construction of pipeline connections for two storage wells in Oberkling and Pfaffstätt. Surface water originating from well cellars and collection tanks was also partially disposed of (contents of sand traps).

3,701 tonnes of soil were contaminated with crude oil in 2021 in the course of work undertaken in relation to the abandonment of mining facilities that are no longer needed (well V-008) and reconstruction activities at stations (Pfaffstätt 2). The figure dropped to just under one third of this amount in the following year.

Legal framework – internal management

Mining waste is subject to the provisions of the Mineral Resources Act, meaning that RAG is required to submit a mining waste management plan, which was revised at the end of 2020. RAG is a waste producer, but not a waste collector or waste handler. Possible adverse effects from leaks of harmful liquid substances and gaseous emissions are kept to a minimum by actively working on the processes involved as part of the company’s integrity management and environmental and waste management systems, and the ongoing development and implementation of optimisation measures.

As part of our preparations for reporting, in 2022 we asked our disposal companies to assist us in documenting whether our waste is diverted from or destined for disposal. Going forward, it should be possible for waste disposal companies to give us access to this information through a dedicated platform.

Social component of recycling

IT equipment is donated to the ‘SOCIUS-Bündnis gegen Armut‘ charity, which refurbishes them as part of a social labour project before passing them on to disadvantaged families. Used toners are also given to the ‘Rote Nasen‘ clowndoctors organization for recycling.